Elon Musk, a man not known for subtlety or lack of ambition, has a plan to dominate the transportation sector. He doesn’t call it that, of course. He gave it the far more benign name Master Plan, Part Deux.
Beyond creating a vertically integrated company that builds electric vehicles, batteries to store the power to propel them, and the solar panels to generate that power, he wants to create whole new vehicle lineups. Some of them sound like they’re in advanced stages of development.
The plan, which Musk posted to the Tesla Motors blog on Wednesday afternoon, comes a decade after Part One, which essentially laid out the company’s plan to make boatloads of money with the Model S so it could produce the more affordable Model 3. Having crossed those things off his to-do list—while also outfitting an automobile factory, a battery factory, and, oh, running SpaceX and Solar City—Musk has moved on to the second phase of his plan.
Even as the company scrambles to produce the Model 3 sedan that Musk remains convinced will bring EVs to the masses, Tesla Motors, according to the Master Plan, Part Deux, sees itself creating a compact SUV and “a new kind of pickup truck.” Beyond that, Musk says, “there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport.”
He means big-rigs and buses, and says both are the early stages of development—and could be revealed next year. “We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.”
Now, electric buses are nothing new. San Francisco is crawling with them. But a Tesla bus? You know it would be gorgeous. Musk says they’d be smaller than you’re used to, but offer plenty of room for wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes. They’ll be quick enough to keep up with traffic, and deliver a smooooth ride.
Where things get really wild, though, is his claim that Tesla buses would not have to stick to pre-determined routes like the busses that rumble past your office. A little intelligent planning with smartphones and mapping (think = Uber Pool) can deliver people right to their door. He’s even put some thought into what people without smartphones will do. They can use fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops, which will otherwise be redundant.
Looking a little further into the future, Tesla will continue developing its autonomous technology so all of these cars and trucks and buses do the driving. And then come the autonomous ride-sharing services in which Telsa owners let strangers borrow their cars or Tesla operates urban fleets “ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.”
Individually, none of these ideas is at all radical. You’d be hard-pressed to find an automaker that isn’t following Google in the race to autonomous cars, Daimler recently unveiled an autonomous big-rig, and a Tesla co-founder has developed a pretty sweet electric garbage truck. What is staggering here is the scale. Musk wants to do it all, immediately, and tie it all together in a cohesive system.
It’s so crazy it’s brilliant. And if Musk’s record so far is any indication, don’t bet against him pulling it off.
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